Discovering traces of "ghosts" hidden since the end of the ice age
November 12, 2019
Using a special type of radar, the researchers discovered the invisible footprints that had been hiding since the end of the last ice age – and what they covered.
According to a study published in Scientific Reports, these fossilized footprints reveal a wealth of information about how humans and animals moved and talked 12,000 years ago.
"We had never thought of looking under footprints, but it turns out that the sediment itself has a memory that records the effects of the weight and momentum of the body. beautifully animal, "said lead author of the study, Thomas Urban, of Cornell University in the United States.
"This gives us a way to understand the biomechanics of extinct wildlife that we have never had before," Urban said.
The researchers examined footprints of humans, mammoths and lazy giants in the White Sands National Monument, New Mexico.
Thanks to ground penetrating radar (GPR), they were able to resolve 96% of human footprints in the study area, as well as all the largest traces of vertebrates.
"But there are more important implications than this case study," Urban said.
"The technique could eventually be applied to many other fossilized footprint sites around the world, including potentially dinosaurs.We have already successfully tested the method more widely at multiple locations in White Sands," added Urban .
"Although these" ghost "footprints may become invisible shortly after the rain and when conditions are favorable, it is now possible, thanks to geophysical methods, to record, locate and study them in 3D so to reveal the interactions, history and mechanics of the Pleistocene animals in really exciting new ways, "said co-author of the study, Sturt Manning.
RPG is a non-destructive method that allows researchers to access hidden information without the need for searches.
The sensor – a kind of antenna – is dragged on the surface and sends a radio wave into the ground. The bouncing signal gives an image of what lies beneath the surface.